THE COUNTRY CALLED SUDAN (3)

[Original by Takahiko HASHIMOTO, Sudan Project (November 2, 2017); Translated by M. Kanai]

The entrance to the JVC Khartoum office.

Hello to everyone who supports JVC. My name is Hashimoto. Today, I would like to introduce you to the JVC Khartoum office.

The JVC Khartoum office is about a 20 minute-taxi ride from the Khartoum International Airport. It is housed in a building located in the Manshiya district. The owner of the building lives with a large family but has some space for rent, and JVC occupies the second floor as a tenant. Entering through the gate, there is a courtyard surrounded by a building where the children of the owner’s family are always enjoying soccer. Going up the stairs, you will find the entrance to our office in front of you. Upon entering, there is quite a large space with tables and chairs which we use for meeting and doing some work. Behind this space, there is a kitchen where I cook lunch by myself most of the time and Mona occasionally makes traditional Sudanese dishes for us.

The meeting space.

There are rooms on both sides of the meeting space and the one on the left is our office. We work here from 8:30 in the morning till around 6 in the evening. Two of us, Mona and I, carry out our work while talking about Sudan, Japan, and our activities, and coping with various accidents such as occasional power failures, light bulbs breaking with “pop” sounds due to overcurrents, and smoke coming out of the copy machine, to name but a few.

By the way, an overcurrent needs a bit of caution. When a light bulb suddenly gets brighter than usual or a ceiling fan starts spinning faster with noises, watch out! If that happens, all the plugs need to be removed from their sockets, otherwise electrical appliances will be damaged. A few days ago, I found out that the switch of a fan in the bedroom was burnt due to an overcurrent. The other room is my bedroom. In addition, there is a unit bath and a balcony. There is no washing machine, therefore I wash laundry by hand. I swirl them around in a bucket picturing in my mind how a washing machine works. After being hung out in the balcony, laundry will dry quickly. However, sand dusts floating in the air tint the laundry with a somewhat yellowish color. When a fan stops due to a power failure, it instantly gets hot in the room. At these times I stay in the balcony reading books till the electricity is back. Even so, it is too dangerous to stay in the balcony between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon because of the high temperature.

The office space.

A day in the Khartoum office starts with sweeping the floor and wiping it with a damp cloth. I wake up at 6:30 to the sound of the adhan from a mosque (Muslim temple) calling loudly for prayer, as well as to an alarm, and start sweeping. It is strange how I find a layer of sand accumulated on the floor every morning despite daily cleaning. It takes nearly a full 30 minutes for me to sweep and wipe the three rooms, getting soaked with perspiration. It is an exercise that makes me fully awake every morning. Then, I will check emails and news over a cup of tea in which I put a tablespoonful of sugar to make my brain function better. Around 9:30, Mona comes into the office with the words of greeting, “As-salamu alaykum (Peace be upon you)”. By the time we finish checking and confirming the work of the day and communicating with the Kadugli Office in our operation site, it is already lunchtime. ‘Japanese-style’ dishes I cook using seasonings brought from Japan make Mona extremely happy. Therefore, it’s worth cooking them. Recently I found soy sauce sold in a nearby supermarket (although it is not a made-in-Japan product obviously), so I can surely have a more varied repertoire of ‘Japanese-style’ dishes. In the afternoon, we continue our work, keeping in touch with staff members of the Kadugli office. Around 6:00 in the evening, Mona goes home saying, “See you tomorrow. Ma’a salama!” Then, there comes my private time. A woman named Saffa who used to receive training in the Khartoum office comes to teach me Arabic twice a week as my personal tutor. She is a very good teacher. Her way of teaching utilizing body language, without using English, is very effective. Around 12:00 midnight, I go to my bedroom. As soon as I lie down, I am already in a dream. Since I do not have a television nor a radio, I really enjoy watching a dream while sleeping.

The above is an introduction to the JVC Khartoum office, although the latter half of my report is a sort of description of my own life here. If you are ever in the neighborhood, be sure to drop in.

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